INT’L DAY OF FAMILIES: Salesian Missions highlights programs for families in poverty
Programs support people facing poverty, lack of education, hunger and homelessness
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (May 15, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian and other international organizations in honoring the International Day of Families celebrated each year on May 15. The day is organized by the International Federation for Family Development in partnership with SOS Children’s Villages International and in collaboration with UNICEF and the Division for Social Policy and Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Salesian missionaries around the globe provide for youth and their families who are facing challenges related to poverty, lack of education, hunger, and homelessness.
Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions, said, “We understand youth can better focus on their education when they are in homes where there is stability and they have their basic needs met. Children facing abuse, lack of food or no parental support struggle in their studies. This is why Salesians work with families to provide education, meet basic needs and offer wrap-around support services to ensure that the family has what they need to meet the physical and emotional needs of youth.”
In honor of the International Day of Families, Salesian Missions is proud to share Salesian programs that provide education and services to support poor youth and their families.
Don Bosco alumni associations in Ecuador collaborated to bring joy to vulnerable people in cities across the country during the Christmas holiday. In Cuenca, 500 families were helped with baskets containing food, clothes and basic medicines, while more than 1,500 children were given toys and candies. Don Bosco alumni in Quito and Riobamba delivered baskets to more than 300 low-income families.
Many alumni helped the Salesians by offering and collecting donations. The Don Bosco alumni associations included Healing Wounds, Salesians of San Francisco, Centro San José de Manta, the Don Bosco Alumni Center and the Carlos Crespi educational community. On Saturdays during the year, a solidarity breakfast is also held in these locations.
A Salesian missionary noted, “These Christmas events provided a great opportunity for Don Bosco alumni to pay it forward and give back to their communities. So many families are faced with poverty, even more so now given the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis. This was a chance for them to receive much-needed food and other necessary items and for children to receive gifts to brighten their Christmas.”
Salesian missionaries offer a range of social services and educational programs in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. Salesians operate a parish, a youth center, primary and secondary schools, and a vocational center. The Salesian vocational center is currently offering the program “Vocational Training for Young Mothers in Malabo.”
The program caters to young women who had to drop out of school early because of pregnancies, those who were forced out of the home by their parents or those with children who are not recognized by their fathers. Currently, the Salesian program has 30 young women who are pregnant or have newborn babies. The program is supported by Don Bosco in the World Foundation, which promotes and supports programs in Salesian organizations around the globe.
This program is particularly important because laws in Malabo prevent pregnant young women and young mothers from attending school. Without the opportunity offered by the Salesians to learn a trade, these young women would not be able to gain an education. They would remain in a system that stigmatizes and punishes them while restricting them from gaining the skills for stable employment.
Volunteers with Don Bosco Arts and Science College, located in Angadikadavu, Kerala, India, built a house for a mother with two children. The family was homeless but now has shelter and the safety of somewhere to live.
The project began when Lucy George, a Salesian cooperator, saw the young mother named Jessy with her two children on a bus, and she heard Jessy talk about not having a place to live. George mentioned this to the students at Don Bosco Arts and Science College, and the students, staff and management took up the challenge of constructing a house.
The house is 600 square feet with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and a work area. The cost was provided for by donations from students, staff, management and well-wishers. It is the fourth house constructed by volunteers of the college.
Salesian missionaries launched projects for young single mothers and at-risk youth in Rango, within the city of Butare, Rwanda. The projects have the support of Mission Don Bosco in Turin, Italy. To date, 40 young mothers have taken training to learn tailoring skills. They have also received a sewing machine and some essential materials to start a simple tailoring or sewing business that will provide an income for their families.
Father Remy Nsengiyumva, the parish priest in Rango, noted, “Many girls drop out of school due to poverty and unwanted pregnancy. To help them and their children, Salesians initiated the two-year tailoring training program at the Vocational Training Center. The new program offers entrepreneurial training and provides a basic took kit so participants can start an income-generating business. The center also offers courses in construction, carpentry and welding.”
Through the “Tomorrow Will Be Better” program, Salesians have also been able to support 120 at-risk children and youth who had run away to live on the street. Social workers were able to understand why they ran away from home and help them reestablish a relationship with their families. Salesians distributed clothes, hygiene kits and food. In addition, peer groups were organized to support youth in building relationships. Through this effort, 89 youth enrolled in elementary school, 20 in secondary school and 11 in vocational training.
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